Sunday, October 4, 2009

My absence of an age from blogging

I have had to field many upset and annoyed avid readers of my blog and explain my absence and to them I all I can say is I am sorry and will make my best effort to resume.

It has been a very trying couple of months, with the general principle of everything not going my way or as I had hoped and I have spent the past few months trying to get back into a system of normalcy having had to cope with many a trying circumstance, especially as it relates to produce and yield in all my farming activities, and made worse by the ever increasing costs of labor in farming and the corresponding decline in their productivity which only another farmer in SL can understand the meaning of.

The last straw was when we had to leave a third of our land fallow. All the farmers around me and myself were left with costs that exceeded the revenue from their paddy this season. It was so intense that there was a long line of people wanting to borrow money from me at rates in excess of 50% per annum. Needless to say I may lose the principle forgetting the interest, as they just had no real methodology in rational thinking to pay back.

This has now convinced me that rural farming as it is encouraged in Sri Lanka is just to keep the farmers impoverished, and another system of allocation of land and farming economical scales with less of the internecine warfare that takes place now is the only answer to higher yields and more productivity with actually a lower cost than is currently incurred and hence wasted due to the present system.

I have had to resort to a part time job to supplement my agricultural loss, and all this job does is to subsidize the loss. I have therefore to seek a more viable method of agriculture with the use of more intensive mechanization than what I have done so far along with the cultivation of a larger extent of land, along with the minimization of some of the risk factors such as water, and weather in the approach I take.

I have had problems in all the aspects of agriculture from problems with the dairy herd, to low yields in coconuts added to the unexpectedly dormant season for King Coconuts, added to the lower paddy crop, and the complete destruction of my banana cultivation by monkeys and the papaya cultivation by the mealy bug infestation took all the wind from my sails, and I went into reverse gear. The high staff turnover with the resulting training curve added to the fall in productivity. The economy is in a bad state, and with lower incomes and less money, people increased the level of stealing and the non payment of goods and services purchased. My neighbors were robbing my coconuts and selling them cheap to their other neighbors resulting in a lower turnover at my shop, as my customers bought the same coconuts, this time stolen at lower prices, which I could not possibly match.

It is not something that one likes to read, so I recoiled from relating the day to day misery on my blogs as it does not make a good story. I was waiting for some good news and it never came, and does not seem like coming for a long time.


cj said...

Good to see you writing once again... I don't know about others but as far as I am concerned I still would like to read how your farm is going even if it is good news or bad news. I do hope all works out well,

Rajj said...

Simply, fragmented lands as we have in Sri Lanka are not efficient and often not viable.

George said...

Thank goodness you're back, Ranjit. With all the political and economic news from Sri Lanka being so bad, your "groundviews" brought some relief. Although your ventures don't appear to be doing well, any news from you is better than none.

Anonymous said...

Good to have you back.

My Advice:

1. Stop growing. You have no chance here. Best is to trade. Just buy the stuff from farmers and sell to your customers and kade. I think this is by far the most socially responsible, and economically efficient thing you can do.

2. Dispose of properties not getting you a return. You seem to be stretched too thin here. Maybe you can get people to farm your property and just charge them a rent. You could buy their stuff as well.

3. Shed all non trading related staff. They are bleeding you dry.

Your stupidity has cause you to waste many years in this endeavor. It is time you learned from your incompetence and started running your enterprise more efficiently.

Good Luck

Hopes for Sri Lanka said...

Who is the "Anonymous" idiot that wrote the fourth comment? Do you think Ranjit is doing this for profit? He could earn millions in Colombo with his qualifications and skills. But Ranjit has a dream and his reflections, descriptions, and anecdotes enrich our lives. Many of his readers envy his simple, "close to the earth" lifestyle.

And don't call him stupid.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ranjith,

Do WRITE if you can find the time. It most certainly does not matter if it is good news or bad news. These are the realities of farming and documenting them and disseminating them to future generations is hugely important. It certainly is far more important to us than drunken night outs and the loss of love that features in most Kottu blogs.

Your news both good and bad give us a fresh perspective of life and help put my troubles in perspective.

My only advice is KEEP WRITING. In farming things do get better and it is the eternal struggle with the land and all the uncertainties that offer tempt strong men to love such a fickle mistress.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful that you are back-and I sincerely hope things will get better for you soon. Wish there were more people like you who are not always only considering getting more money for themselves-how dare that anonymous refers to your endeavours as an act of stupidity-good luck and keep up the good work-I wish I had the courage to give up my comfortable life and do something like what you are doing.

mottapala said...

Sorry to hear all the bad things that is happening to you. This is typical Sri lanka, that all I could say.

What happened to your holliday bunglow thingy? You could earn some money by renting it to your blog readers when they visit sri lanka. I would certainly rent it.

Kirigalpoththa said...

Glad you are back!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Ranjit - so good to read your musings even if they're more like travails. You have so many admirers and I think it's all about your dedication and commitment.

How rude was one contributor - easy to sit back and pontificate. I admire your guts and willingness to have a go and put it out there.

Life is about learning and methinks you've done a lot of this through this experience. I'd be erring on the positive and looking out for signs of better times for you.

Keep writing too - it's cathartic and besides - we're all curious and want to continue our window on your special life.

Greetings from Frank in Australia.

Anonymous said...

I read yesterday that the Minister Hemakumara Nanayakkara is promoting 20,000 home gardens-encouraging people to grow their own vegetables with an emphasis on using less chemical fertilizers-the article also stated that on average a family spends Rs.4000/- on buying vegetables and fruits-may be you can offer some of your excellent advice and expertise to help this project-I am sure many would love to emulate a gentleman farmer.

Rajaratarala said...

thats exactly the point. If we have the land we should make an effort to grow some basics at home to eat fresh healthy and need I say it save some of the exhorbitant expense of fruit and veg. This unfortunately is not the panacea on a macro level, as the population is becoming more urban, and two income, and also living in ever smaller plots where they leave for work before dawn and arrive after dusk.

It is to alleviate that issue that I am developing a plan based out of practical experience to double output with no more effort by those already in farming. The kitchen gardeners really dont have a surplus to sell except to share with neighbors.